top of page
  • Paras Sharma

Protection of Indigenous Heritage

Written By: Rupali Jain, Student, Banasthali University


Culture plays a significant role in the development and growth of the nation as we learn different determinants by exploring the ancient culture and diversity. India is rich in vast culture and diversity with the incredible assistance arena of science, fiction, art, culture, religion, and knowledge. India has 38 world heritage sites that incorporate 30 cultural heritages, 7 natural properties, and one mixed site. The present paper describes the National and International laws for the protection of the indigenous heritage of the country plus the intervention of the judicial along with government initiatives for the public interest.


When we hear a word ‘Heritage’ which indicates that it is related to monuments, religious building and temples, and many more historic tourist place but it also includes the historical building in the urban areas which represent old culture in the cities which is the equivalent implication. The word indigenous heritage not only limited to the tangible monuments or site seeing places but it also includes the beliefs, expression, and culture of the people living in areas located in different parts of the country. Heritage is the pride of the nation and identity of different states which defines the uniqueness of the country

“The term Heritage encompasses existing cultures and folkways of today, music, dance, language, Religion, cuisines, artistic tradition, festivals and material vestiges of the built cultural Environment including monuments, historic public buildings, and archaeological ruins and relics.” - G. P. Nyaupane

“Heritage is a dynamic reference point that acts as an instrument that ensures cultural sustainability.” - D. J. Timothy


The Fundamental rights and fundamental duties are correlated to each other. If one can benefit or exercise their rights, they must have to reckon their duties too. The fundamental duties act as an alarm for the citizens to caution fundamental duties while exercising their rights. Part lV-A of the Indian constitution that talks about the fundamental duties inserted through the 42nd amendment act. The 11 fundamental duties are defined under article 51-A of the Indian constitution which prescribes every citizen to follow their duties and observe basic norms of autonomous conduct and behaviour.

Through the preamble of the constitution, one can secure their rights i.e. right to liberty of thought, expression belief, faith, and worship and also emphasizes the duties of the citizens of the country viz, justice, social and political.

Article 51-A confers the duties of every citizen regards to safeguard the Indian heritage, culture, traditions, values, customer, etc... And considers it as a fundamental duty of every citizen of the country and strict punishment for the violation of duties.

In addition to this, there are certain fundamental rights are also provided to every citizen to exercise i.e. right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 which says that every person has an equal right to exercise their personal liberty. That means the people living the tribal areas having different cultures, expression, beliefs, practice, and language have the rights to exercise freely it without any restrictions. And that needs to be safeguarded by the government or authorities so that it cannot be extinct and the upcoming generation and are updated about the vast diversity of the country. Furthermore, article 29 of the Indian constitution protects the cultural rights of the minority section of the society as fundamental rights so that the most menacing and vulnerable section of the society are protected. According to Article 49 of the Indian Constitution, it is the duty or obligation of the state government for safeguarding the monuments, places, or artistic or archaeology, etc under the law prescribed by the parliament some, which is having a historical importance. It is the responsibility of the state government to protect such indigenous heritage of the country by making laws in interest to conservation of bequest of the country.

Importance of heritage

1. Sense of cultural identity - Preservation of the heritage always helps to remember our cultural identity and for the assessment of the ancestors. The safeguarding the heritage helps the future generation to learn the ancient art, culture, beliefs, practices, and most important appreciate the relationship with the nation.

2. Symbolize the cultural heritage - By the Way of preserving the heritage which shows the uniqueness of the civilized country with the ancient beliefs of the people that demonstrate the growth of the culture. This works as a preceptor to inform the spiritual movement across the nation.

3. Increase tourism - Tourism plays an important role in the creation of wealth. The increased tourism helps the local people to create a huge amount and also gives employment to the local guides that drive to the generation of finance and sponsor. This will help in the growth and betterment of the nation.

Menaces to Indian heritage-

Theft – The legacy of the nation is in endanger as we lose our precious archeology or any other creativity that we get from our ascendants to conserve them and utilize these skills for the development of the country and be self depended. But as we see that due ignorant acts of authorities and citizens we lost many of our bequests that were gifted by our forefather. Many of our sculptures, arts, paintings, and further other important inheritance are lost due to negligence by authorities in preserving and conserving them or less protection in monuments and museums.

Smuggling – the illegal way of transferring legacy of the nation to one who uses it for the purpose of luxury or exporting to another country for the decorative purpose or selling it at the high prices for earning the huge profit with the aim to self-betterment

Destitute preservation- the neglected act by the authorities or citizen lead of destruction of the ancestry by improper maintenance of Ajanta. The use of proper methods wills the way to preserve it conserve our estate. For example, Ajanta caves in Maharashtra are continuously destroying due to humidity and absence of maintenance; we are going to relinquish our most beautiful architect of the nation.

Inadequacy of finance – the availability of insufficient finance with the protector of such heritage and archeology cause destruction of our legacy. As people are demotivated toward safeguarding our heritage because of lack of finance and they start quitting upon the traditional art which they get from their forefathers such as textiles, paintings, sculptures, etc. The tribal people are shifted to other regions for earning wealth, due to less demand for the ancient art since people are more attractive toward the cheap and accessible commodities.

Tourism – Every coin has a two side, in the same manner, every act have two different effects. As the increase in the tourism activities in the country will lead to destruction cultures of the tribal regions, people are getting influences by their culture. There is a loss of the regional identity and values of the local community as they get influenced by the westernization.

Competition – As peoples of urban areas are depending upon the technical products and standardized products but in rural areas, people are having fewer resources, they do not have huge finance to set up industries and promote their products at large scale. The literacy rate in the rural areas is very low which made difficulties to communicate their products to reach a large section of the society and due that they can’t generate huge revenue.

Laws for the protection of cultural heritage

International laws

In the early 21st-century socio-culture evolution has been expressed through creating a building either it can be a temple, theaters, monuments, sculptures, including other works of art. These masterworks help to build up the originality and however, they are frequently damaged or destroyed subsequently due to the armed conflicts. These destructions can have catastrophic consequences for the present and future generations.

In 1954, During the second world war, the effect of the massive destruction of cultural property draws the attention of the international community unanimously recognized the importance of protecting the cultural properties from irreversible damage and in the spirit of universal responsibility. The convention for the protection of the cultural property in the circumstance of armed conflict was born. The Hague convention is introduced in 1954, which is the first international treaty with a worldwide mission with the aim of focusing on the protection of the cultural heritage in the event of the armed conflict. The convention protects the movable or immovable property of enormous importance to international cultural heritage such as architect on illogical sites, monuments, buildings of historical or artistic importance which is dedicated to religious manuscripts books and other subjects of cultural, ancient, or archaeological value, In addition to its important collection of archives. The Hague convention explicitly prohibited the use of cultural property for the purposes which is likely to detect all destruction or damages in the event of armed disputes and requires all state parties to abstain from doing any active obstruction directed against such property. The convention also requires state parties to foster within their armed forces, a spirit of concerns for the cultural estate of all the people.

In the 1953 act I.e. The convention for Protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict was passed for the protection of the tangible and intangible or movable and immovable property. The property got registered through the international registration of cultural people for the special protection to safeguard their interest without intervention of any authority or military for the objective of self-use.

Protection of Moveable property (1978)

This is the recommendation for the interest of archaeological, cultural, technical, or history, radical expression which evolved my nature or through the human creation that needed to be protected. This is for the prevention alarm for the education or informative purpose or for the International Corporation.

Protection of the under what underwater heritage under the UN convention

This act safeguards the monuments or historical buildings or artifacts or other archaeology which was under the water partially or fully from more than 100 years partially or continuously. But under this legislation, the pipelines, cables, or other artificial constructions underwater through human efforts are not included.

2003, The Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage

The intangible cultural heritage includes the expression, beliefs, practices, faith, culture, knowledge of the specific community for their protection and advantages. This convention safeguards the intangible cultural heritage and provides them some reinforcement or corporation. This act helps to promote the tradition, arts, or other social rituals and practices of the individuals, particular groups or communities.

National laws

India was the 1st country to take initiative to pass the laws regarding the protection of the heritage sites located in the territory in the name of the Bengal regulation act XIX of 1810 accompanied by the Madras regulations VII of 1817 in 2 centuries ago. Likewise, to prevent the destruction to our estate or archeology the 1863 act XX was enacted.

In order to protect the treasury which is found under or within the monument sites accidentally by any local people or by authorities during the time of construction and which is lawfully dispose of The Indian Treasure Drove act was legislated in 1878.

In 1904, The Ancient Monument act was ordained to take care of the monuments that are under the authority of private individuals or under the government authorities. The act was redeclared in 1951 as the ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains active, 1952. Through this act 450 new monuments and sites are also included and declared as national importance under the state recognition act, 1956.

Then in 1947 during the time of independence The Antiquities export control act was passed which brings in certain regulations on exports of antiquities to another country. In this act, the license for deciding whether such items are antiquity or not, and the decision was given to the Director-General. This statute was repealed by the 1972 act for the productive control over the export of the antiquities.

In 2010, The Ancient Monuments And Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act was legislated which states that all the archaeological sites remain protected and further new provisions are also enacted which helps the central government for valuing the monuments in order to protect them or the areas located around it. According to the section 20(E) of the act, the heritage bye-law antique mandatory prepared to conserve these sites. Thereafter the report of these monuments is submitted to the national monument authority for approval and also gets developed the heritage websites for public access.

Judicial Activism

The judiciary takes a proactive perspective in the protection of the Indian heritage and culture. Through the introduction of PIL, one can secure the public interest by demanding to establish social justice in the country. It also helps to enforce the duties upon the general public and formulate widespread awareness in the society to safeguard our culture for the distant future. The concept of PIL is the way through which one can seek remedy from the Supreme Court and high court under Article 32&226 respectively. One can exercise their rights in the subject of violation or omission of the statute enacted by the state government or public administrations in case of any public immoral or trauma affecting the public interest


M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (Taj Trapezium case)[W.P. 13381 of 1984]

The case is related to the d to the protection of the Taj Mahal monument from the industry upset in the city near the monuments which created pollution that resultant in the discoloration of the monuments. This includes under the world heritage sites and the ancient monuments and Archaeological sites & Remains acts. The Supreme Court held that the industries located inside the city or nearby monuments that can be substituted with the natural or relocated it to some other place viz, away from the city. In another case of the Taj corridors scam[ 2007(1)SCC110], the PIL was filed against the UP government agency for the construction of the shops, food plazas, or other entertainment zones near the monument which effects the environment of the heritage.

Vishwanath Pratap Singh v. Union of India[Manu/DE/1490/2002]

The Delhi high court held that any construction of clubs within the area of 100 or 200 meters, which is the violation of 1992 act. The PIL in the case was entertained under the part VII of the Article 49 of the The Ancient Monuments And Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act and Ancient monument and protection act.

Subhas dutta v. Union of India[SC, W.P. No. 252 of 2004 decided on feb 3,2015]

In this case Supreme Court Entertained PIL For the protection of heritage located in different areas and other archaeologies particularly the museums. It was held at there is a speedy trial and the proper investigation in the case of damages or theft to the archaeology of India.


“There are no memories when there is no history”

It is an enormous necessity to protect our culture or heritage. Through this article, we have seen many of the national and international protection laws but do you think they are really operating or just a paper draft? For the common people or tourist, the heritage is just a commodity for new discovery or as the rare items to keep in the museum but for the people who are living in the tribal areas are the one Who carries their art, culture, belief, practices and protect them a lifetime. Most importantly the common people have to understand the importance of the heritage sites in the nation. Recently the incident of three young men vandalized a pillar in the Hamper just for the sake of clicking the photographs or grabbing the attention of social media handles. Heritage is the key to put enormous money in the Indian market and act as a potential for India. Many other new initiatives taken by the Indian government to preserve the cultural heritage in India for instance – Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchan, HRIDAY, The Indian nation trust for Art and cultural heritage, etc. The government is only here to guide the citizen but such it is the duty of every citizen to protect the legacy of the nation.


  1. Heritage Tourism Being a Tool to Rejuvenate Indigenous Culture-


  3. HERITAGE MANAGEMENT: LAW & THE ROLE OF PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION- the International Seminar On Heritage Tourism September 1 & 2, 2010 ICLE’S Jhun Jhunwala College of Arts & Commerce, Vashi.

  4. Biodiversity, tribal knowledge and life in India- Singh, B. P. (2017). Biodiversity, tribal knowledge and life in India. Environment and Social Psychology, 2(1), 1–10.


Opinions expressed in the blogs are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The L Word Blog.

© Copyrighted Material! Contact the publisher for permissions.
bottom of page